Prominent academics and politicians signed an open letter on Wednesday calling on the Greek government to put an end to the endemic violence in university campuses throughout the country.
Paris-based Byzantologist Helene Glykatzi-Ahrweiler, political historian Thanos Veremis, wrote in their letter “Tolerance of violence has turned into complicity.” The protest was also signed by former education ministers Marietta Giannakou and Anna Diamantopoulou, and ex-Ombudsman Nikiforos Diamantouros.
The group is demanding the abolition of the so-called “University asylum law” which prohibits police from entering campuses unless there is explicit authorization from the academic authorities.
“Almost every higher-education institution in the country has been through such a deplorable experience, without there being effective official reactions,” the signatories complain, adding that anyone who obstructs the production and propagation of knowledge is “an enemy of civilization.”
The letter follows a host of incidents in which leftist groups have even threatened academic staff for their views. Associate Professor of History and Archaeology Maria Efthymiou has received threats because, according to a flier distributed at the university, “Her lectures contain class bias and ideological propaganda.” The threats also charged the professor with the ultimate goal of “coaxing students to the so-called virtues of the capitalist system.”
A defiant Dr. Efthymiou, who has in the past protested the arbitrary occupations of the schools and the interruption of courses, says that she will not be bullied into silence.
She recently stood and held a banner reading “We will not be afraid” outside the university.
According to Efthymiou, “Greek universities have been transformed into places of lawlessness, destruction, occupation and vandalism by people who put different labels on themselves to cover their misery.”
The Greek opposition New Democracy party, which is ahead in the opinion polls leading into the July 7 general election, has pledged that it will reform the university asylum law if it comes into power.